Functional Accessibility Evaluator

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Summary: Web accessibility issues can be hard to observe. The Functional Accessibility Evaluator (FAE) is the U of M’s preferred tool to make it easier to detect web accessibility issues. Use FAE as you create new web pages for existing websites, and before you launch any new website.

On this page:

 

FAE checks all the pages in your website

FAE checks all the pages in your website against the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 Level A and AA Success Criteria.

FAE is free to anyone at the University of Minnesota with an internet ID, and you can use it to scan any website regardless of whether you are the site owner. 

It generates a report that shows:

  • Violations
  • Warnings
  • Items that need to be checked manually
  • Passed items

Within these twelve major categories:

  • Landmarks
  • Headings
  • Styles/content
  • Images
  • Links
  • Tables
  • Forms
  • Widgets/scripts
  • Audio/video
  • Keyboard
  • Timing
  • Site navigation

After you run the report, you’ll need to go back and fix the issues that FAE identifies, then run the report again.

FAE report example

A typical report generated by FAE includes violations, warnings, manual checks and passed items, along with rule groups that include landmarks, headings, styles, images, links, and tables, among other criteria.

 

Log in to FAE

  1. Navigate to FAE website
  2. Click "Allow me to pick from list" and select University of Minnesota and login using internet ID and password. If you’ve been to the site more than once, you’ll see University of Minnesota as a suggested selection:

Run the FAE

Decide whether you want to scan a full website or just one page. Copy and paste the URL for the website or page you would like to evaluate.

Where to place URL in FAE

Add the title of the website (which becomes the name of the report). This is the only required field. 

Use the the default HTML5 ruleset. Other decisions on this page also can be left at their defaults or customized for your purposes.

When you click the "Evaluate" button, the system will take some time to generate a report (as in, you can go work on something else while you’re waiting). The only visual indicator that the evaluation is running is that the URL of the site changes to fae.illinois.edu/processing.

Access your FAE Report

When the evaluation is finished, the status on the Report Processing page will change to “Complete,” and you can click on the title to view the report. 

You can come back and access these reports later (which you may want to do if you are trying to make improvements to your site over time).

Processing report page screenshot

View a summary

A summary of your report will be listed at the top of the page, which shows a simple count of number of rules that were violations, warnings, manual checks, or that passed.

Summary page screenshot

Click on the filters (far left side of screen) or rule groups (below the summary) to see more in-depth evaluations of each page of your website.

Here is where running a single-page report might be useful: a single-page report can help focus on just the issues that occur on one page, rather than those that occur across multiple pages.

Take action

Use the FAE report as a to-do list in addressing your site’s accessibility issues.

The six core skills of accessibility will help you address many of these issues, including headings, images, links, tables, and audio/video

However, you may not be able to address some issues without the help of a developer, for example, issues related to:

  • Landmarks
  • Styling (CSS)
  • Dynamic features (widgets, scripts)
  • Keyboard-only navigation

The report will tell you where you need to do manual checks on items. 

Perform a manual check

Some of the items on your site will require a manual check. The method to perform a manual check is different for each type of issue, but here’s one example: Verify that the alt text is appropriate for each image by reading the alt text. You can make the alt text visible on a website by using the Firefox Web Developer extension, or the developer tools in Chrome.

After correcting the issues, re-scan the site to see if the issue has been fixed.  

Solving the issues

When you notice that a particular issue occurs on every page of your site, the issue likely is related to your site’s page template. In this case, you can notify the site administrator of the template; this is a perfect opportunity to do a little website accessibility activism. Let them know their template is not accessible!

FAE and other tools

FAE can be used alone or in conjunction with AInspector Firefox sidebar and Accessibility Bookmarklets. These tools rely on the same methods to check for accessibility but differ slightly in how they function, and each has its own advantage. Read more on audit tools for developers.

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